There’s a unique set of challenges that come with retirement. So, yes, retirement can cause stress. But, stress is a normal part of life. However, with retirement comes aging. This combination may test us more than any other life-changing event we’ve encountered up to this point.
We’ll face many changes during the next phase of our lives and it’s how we handle them that’s important.
While there are a number of situations that can create retirement stress and anxiety, I’ll take a look at 9 retirement stressors and give ideas on how to cope.
1. Fear of Loneliness
Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me. – Anne Hathaway
More people 62 and over are living alone than ever before. And it goes without saying that the probability of living alone increases with age.
Understandably, the fear of loneliness often tops the list of retirement worries.
I did a simple exercise imagining the life of my 80-something dad who lived alone after my mom and brother passed.
Alone in my empty house, I sat quietly and pondered life if by some misfortune my family didn’t return that evening.
The concept gave me chills.
3 major factors contribute to the fear of loneliness.
No. 1 – Death of Spouse – Unsurprisingly, this is the number one life event that causes the most stress for individuals. It can be quite unsettling to anticipate the day when your spouse won’t be there.
- When your partner leaves the earth plane, try to find solace in the knowledge that they have completed this part of their journey.
No. 2 – Divorce – Divorce rates are growing for boomers entering retirement. As a generation, we are considered youthful, energetic, and a bit self-centered. Many boomers still have things to accomplish and have no intention of growing old with a spouse they can’t stand. Yet, divorce is like a double-edged sword. With newfound freedom comes an abundance of alone time.
- The person that made you miserable may also be the only person that would keep you company in old age. Think long and hard before you proceed with a gray divorce.
No. 3 – Smaller Families – The counter-culture of the 60s and 70s brought about changing attitudes towards marriage, and family. Boomers rejected social norms, which led to the “Me” generation having fewer children. Many boomers waited until later in life to have children, and many have no children at all. The size of one’s family is a personal choice, but consequently, there are fewer family members around to fill the void of loneliness.
- If possible, enjoy time with extended family. Use the internet to find people in your community with similar interests. Take walks. Nature has a way of making us feel whole and less lonely.
If loneliness is a concern for you, these tips from WikiHow on how to cope may help.
2. Worry about Getting Older/Looking Older
Sometimes I can’t believe I’m going to be 60. I always say there’s no point moaning about getting older, when there’s nothing you can do about it. But still, I do find it quite funny. I look at that number, 60, and I think, ‘Really? Me?’ -Twiggy
Boomers were obsessed with youth. Indeed, some of us still are. As adolescents, we didn’t trust anyone over 30.
Now that we’re over 30, getting older is one of the concerns that cause retirement stress. Intellectually, we know it isn’t worth worrying about.
However, it’s strange to think that we’ve become The Golden Girls and Grumpy Old Men.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with trying to look good, keep fit, and maintain youthful vitality. I think once you succumb to being old, you will get old.
Growing older is part of growing up. And it’s better than the alternative of not getting older.
If you’re on a mission to look younger, check out these tips on How to Look Younger.
3. Anxiety about Failing Health
I think that age as a number is not nearly as important as health. You can be in poor health and be pretty miserable at 40 or 50. If you’re in good health, you can enjoy things into your 80s. – Bob Barker
We’ve all heard it. Save for retirement because if you don’t, when your health fails you won’t have enough money to cover the medical expenses.
What a bad seed to plant into someone’s psyche! It’s no wonder that the thought of failing health causes retirement stress.
There’s no denying that our bodies change as we age. But that doesn’t mean that we should anticipate illness.
Genes play an important role, and, yes, it’s beneficial to have parents that were in good shape both mentally and physically.
Yet, studies indicate that you can strongly influence your health and longevity with positive habits.
Daily spiritual practice, regular exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition go a long way to avoiding a trip to the doctor.
Visit the Academy of Sleep Medicine for more on the health benefits of sleep.
4. Fear of Not Accomplishing Goals
An important part of any focusing regimen is to set aside time at the end of the day – just before going to sleep – to acknowledge your successes, review your goals, focus on your successful future, and make specific plans for what you want to accomplish the next day. -Jack Canfield
This is a common fear – especially when we realize the day is over and we didn’t make time for something rewarding, an activity we find meaningful.
We must make time for our purpose. With that said, accomplishing worthwhile goals takes commitment, discipline, and faith.
To alleviate retirement stress, find your daily step-by-step program, and reward yourself for small successes.
Don’t let the lack of achieving your goals cause you anxiety. Avoid retirement stress, and take baby steps to achieve your goals.
Vanessa Van Edwards, the brainchild of The Science of People is one of my favorite go-to behavioral investigators for understanding body language and honing people skills.
Visit Vanessa’s article, Goal Setting: 5 Science-Backed Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals, for a unique perspective on how to accomplish all of the goals on your list.
5. Terrified of Losing Independence
I value my independence a lot, and the thought of having to lose that due to age or any other reason terrifies me. -R. Madhaven
The fear and anxiety of losing independence and having someone take care of us is a real concern for baby boomers.
Most of us want to age in place and the thought of being put in a nursing home is a fear worse than death.
What can you do? Prepare ahead of time for how you want to live as an elderly person. Strive for independence, and take measures now that will enable you to stay energetic and vigorous.
Forget the idea of moving to a retirement community of 55 plus. A big disadvantage to these communities is that there are no young people around. You’ll get older quicker being around oldsters.
Read: Should I Move to a 55+ Retirement Community [Why I Wouldn’t]
6. Losing Mental Processing
I don’t fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents like a holiday at the beach. -Mary Roach
More and more boomers are having senior moments and it’s scaring the shit out of them.
Everyone has brain fog now and then. Although when you’re older and have difficulty remembering something, it can be scary.
The good news, however, is that cognitive function need not decline as you age.
Research shows that your brain can grow in capacity and efficiency as long as you continue to stimulate it.
Memory exercise is an excellent way to keep your brain fit for life.
This video by the Memory Foundation will help you get started exercising your brain.
7. Afraid of Boredom
There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom, ever. -Viggo Mortensen
Boomers who’ve been in the workforce all of their lives worry about retirement boredom. Their jobs occupied much of their time and they don’t know how to fill their extra time.
They’ve identified themselves with their job and many have not learned how to occupy themselves outside of the workforce.
You have a very limited view of life if you are afraid of being bored in retirement.
Don’t be narrow-minded about your opportunities. There are countless ways to grow as a person.
Take a photography class, learn to play an instrument, listen to lectures on Youtube – the possibilities are endless.
Try Meet-Ups.com and find something interesting and fun to do!
8. Dread Being with Spouse 24 Hours a Day
Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery. -Erma Bombeck
Rest assured you are not alone if you dread being with your spouse 24 hours a day.
Although, experience tells me that the thought of this is most worrisome for women.
Realistically, a spouse can get on your nerves – especially, if they have unrealistic expectations of what retirement should be like.
It’s essential to embrace change, be flexible, and encourage communication.
Retirement should be a harmonious experience for both husband and wife.
Read: How to Survive Your Husband’s Retirement
9. Fear of Going to the Grave Without a Legacy
No legacy is so rich as honesty. -William Shakespeare
Many people think money is their legacy. And it’s troubling for them if they don’t have a lot of money to leave to their loved ones.
While leaving a big inheritance is nice, the example you set and the wisdom you impart speak more about your life than how much money you leave to your children and grandchildren.
Do you entertain others with colorful stories, run marathons, drive tractors, knit beautiful sweaters, or write long letters? What makes you, you?
Whatever makes you unique is your legacy. That is what you will be remembered for.
Having said that, if you begin reflecting and don’t like your legacy, make changes to improve it.
Most importantly. Tell the truth. It’s the best legacy of all.
It goes without saying that retirement can cause stress. However, with preparation, consideration, and a good attitude, you can alleviate many of the worries that concern you.
Source: Pew Research
Last update for clarity: 03/10/23
Related Articles You May Like:
- Plan Now for a Healthy, Happy Retirement
- 50 Boredom Busters – Things to Do When Retired and Bored
- 15 Online Sites for Retirees to Learn at Home for Free
- Don’t Compromise with Your Spouse on Retirement Plans
What’s your biggest fear about retirement and getting older? Please feel free to comment below. And before you go, please take a moment to subscribe to our newsletter, and like us on Facebook!